Research opportunities with faculty members on campus, as well as with non-profit organizations off campus, are listed below. See application instructions and a link to the Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE) here. The final deadline for submitting applications is March 6, 2020. If selected, students receive a stipend of $550/week plus an award for research-related or travel-related expenses. Internships begin on or after May 26, 2020, last at least 8 weeks, and end no later than August 21, 2020.
Increasing Home Energy Assessment Conversion Rates with Behavioral Science: Field Trials
Thousands of residential energy assessments are conducted each year in the hopes of encouraging homeowners to invest in efficiency upgrades to make their homes more efficient, comfortable and health, and to reduce their carbon footprints. These assessments are somewhat effective for encouraging homeowners to upgrade their homes, but they could be improved, particularly for encouraging the adoption of higher-cost recommendations. Although most assessment recipients follow at least one recommendation, most recommendations are not heeded at all. For example, a program in Pittsburgh led by a student group, the National Energy Leadership Corps, found that 85% of all customers adopted at least one recommendation, but overall only 30% of recommendations were adopted (Ketchman et al. 2016).
Behavioral science and psychology are perfectly positioned to understand homeowner decision-making for energy upgrades. The ACEEE Behavior and Human Dimensions program has systematically studied message framing and assessment report-writing for home energy decisions over the past several years. In this project, we will apply the findings from this research to test the ability of behavioral science to have measurable impacts on energy upgrade conversion rates. The intern will be asked to conduct background literature reviews, collect data on current practices of home energy assessors and, under the guidance of the research supervisor, design educational materials for home energy assessors. The intern will assist with this project and others conducted by the Behavior and Human Dimensions program. Experience, skills or knowledge in psychology or behavioral science are preferred but not required. A keen interest in learning, a strong work ethic, and an interest in the topic area is required. As a part of the program, the intern will learn and strengthen their research skills. ACEEE will publish this study in 2021 with the goal of informing home energy assessors and policy makers of the value of behavioral science during home assessments. This internship is located in Washington, D.C.
Biotechnology for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Manufacturing
Several opportunities exist to carry out original research in the area of biotechnology to address challenges in energy and the environment. The intern(s) will work on developing microbial strains (yeast or bacteria) to genetically engineer their metabolisms for the production of biofuels or chemicals. This will involve assembling metabolic pathways for the biosynthesis of products of interests and deleting genes for enzymes that compete with the pathway of interest. Interns may be involved in developing or applying genetically encoded biosensors to monitor the metabolic activity of cells and facilitate high throughput strain screening. They may also be involved in constructing optogenetic circuits to dynamically control fermentations with light. Interns will carry out microbial fermentations, and analyze products with chromatography.
Development of a Machine Learning based Magnetic Core Loss Modeling Platform
This project will develop a machine learning based magnetic core loss modeling platform to accelerate the design process of power electronics. Student will develop software tools and experimental setups to measure the magnetic core loss, process the data, and generate SPICE netlist for magnetic-in-circuit simulations.
Climate Central, a non-profit headquartered in Princeton, is developing a “Climate News Engine” (CNE) to help communicate timely and localized information relating to climate-change science, mitigation, and adaptation to mainstream media and other audiences. Through strategically designed automated processes, CNE will systematically find relevant news hooks based on monitoring of daily weather, forecast and other data streams, and quickly deliver clear, compelling, locally-relevant, climate-related graphics and language through local journalistic and social media voices. The CNE will integrate established programs at Climate Central, including Surging Seas (analysis and tools for sea-level rise impact assessments), WeatherPower (an online interactive tool that provides localized solar and wind energy forecasts), and Climate Matters (a program providing localized information to 800 local-TV meteorologists across the U.S. for on-air use to inform their viewers about climate-change related topics).
The intern will assist with the development of the CNE tool. Specific activities will be designed for the intern taking into consideration their background and interests. As an example, the intern might construct a private (Climate Central-only) API to access the WeatherPower tool, which will be a CNE content source for events triggered by solar and wind energy forecasts. This API might also form the basis of an API that would eventually be offered to the public.
Nanoparticle Flow through Porous Media:
Nanoparticles are promising tools for sensing and potentially mobilizing trapped contaminants from groundwater aquifers. However, as these are pumped through porous rocks, they clog many of the pores, and their transport becomes difficult to control. The goal of this project is to use 3D visualization of nanoparticle flow through porous media to understand which pores clog, why they clog, and how this impacts flow.
Polymer solutions are a promising way to recover trapped contaminants from groundwater aquifers. However, it is still unclear how to design polymers that are both environmentally friendly and effective. The goal of this project is to use 3D visualization to see how polymers of different molecular structures mobilize (or not) non-aqueous contaminants trapped in a porous medium.
Moisture-Absorbent Temperature-Controlled Hudrogels (MATCHes):
The goal of this project is to produce and test Moisture-Absorbent Temperature-Controlled Hydrogels (MATCHes): materials that can absorb large quantities of water from air, even in arid conditions, and can then release it in liquid form upon a defined temperature change. In this project, in collaboration with Prof. Sankaran Sundaresan and Prof. Forrest Meggers, we will use advanced visualization to determine the operating conditions for optimal water absorption/release and heat transfer. Ultimately, the development of MATCHes could improve water access in resource-limited conditions, with impacts in agriculture, sanitation, health, fighting forest fires, and management of water conflict.
Spatial analysis of energy-system data
The focus of this project will be on collecting and processing data related to the future energy systems of major world economies (e.g. India, China, USA and Europe), covering both the drivers of future growth and changes in energy demand, and critical spatial factors that influence the prospects for technologies to decarbonize the energy supply system. Candidate interns should have experience in collecting and organizing spatial datasets using GIS software. Furthermore, the candidate would either have experience in spatial analytical techniques, or the motivation to learn them. The internship will be for 10 weeks, starting on a mutually agreed date in late May or early June. The location of the internship will be Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment on campus. The internship will be supervised by Dr. Joe Lane, an Associate Research Scholar at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.
Engineering analysis of energy system decarbonization technologies
The project will be to collect cost and performance information for technologies relevant to the future of India’s energy system, and compare these with equivalent information in the US context. Other regions may also be considered. This position requires an engineer (mechanical, chemical, electrical, or other) with an interest in learning more about the operations and costing of technologies to decarbonize the energy supply system. The internship will be for 10 weeks, starting on a mutually agreed date in late May or early June. The location of the internship will be Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment on campus. The internship will be supervised by Dr. Joe Lane, an Associate Research Scholar at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Office of Energy Policy and Innovation, Division of Economic and Technical Analysis
Electric Data Visualization
FERC’s Office of Energy Policy and Innovation coordinates the development of policies and rules that address emerging challenges in the electric and natural gas industries. The Division of Economic and Technical Analysis works to enhance existing energy market rules, processes, and operations in the electric and natural gas industries in order to promote competition and efficient market design. The intern will gain first-hand experience in a federal agency while learning more about the energy industry. Internship activities will include: downloading and organizing regulatory data using Microsoft Excel; analyzing the data to look for trends; working with FERC staff to interpret the data and findings; and creating data visualizations to display findings. Qualifications: Good creative data visualization and Microsoft Excel skills are required. Familiarity with electric power system fundamentals is helpful but not required. This internship is located in Washington, D.C. and will last for 10 weeks.
Precision ion doping and fire control of high energy capacity cathode materials for lithium ion batteries
The goal of this project is to establish precision ion doping in high nickel and cobalt free Ni/Co/Mn ternary lithium ion battery cathode materials by using high oxygen coordination ions to reduce fire propensity and improve battery performance for high energy lithium ion batteries.
Impact of Power-to-X on Design and Operation of Electricity Grids
In order to achieve economy-wide deep decarbonization, electrification of various sectors through application of “power-to-X” (P2X) technologies is of growing interest. Examples of P2X technologies include power-to-heat via air- or ground-sourced heat pumps, power-to-mobility through electric vehicle charging, and power-to-gaseous or -liquid fuels via electrolysis. Wide deployment of P2X systems would impact the electricity grid, including causing significant increases in peak loads that the grid must meet. This project will seek to understand the impacts of P2X penetration from the perspective of power-grid design and operation. Modeling case studies will be developed for the electricity grid serving much of the east-central U.S. (the “PJM” grid) to illustrate various P2X future scenarios. Through this project, the future role of P2X in power grid design and operation can be better understood.
Downscaling Energy-System Transitions
Energy systems will need to be decarbonized rapidly to achieve mid-century emissions targets in efforts to mitigate the most deleterious effects of climate change. Research on energy system transitions largely focuses on technoeconomic modeling of abstract large-scale systems. However, to appropriately plan and design systems and policies, accounting for spatially-resolved technical, political, and socioeconomic constraints and objectives, spatial downscaling of energy system transitions is necessary. This project will focus on geospatial data collection and analysis of downscaled energy system transitions.
Making people cool with radiant heat transfer (building physics)
Heating and cooling buildings is more than 75% of energy used in buildings, and buildings are responsible for 40% of US greenhouse gas emissions. Our goal is to shift the focus away from heating and cooling rooms to heating and cooling people. Radiant heat transfer accounts for half of the heat leaving the body, yet it is not measured or controlled effectively in building operation. You will help building prototype radiant heating and cooling panels with photonic membranes to manipulate radiant heat transfer, and evaluate control and sensing techniques to make people feel hot or cold independent of air temperature using radiant heat transfer surfaces.
Geothermal heat exchangers for the campus of the future (energy systems)
Geoethermal is a major potential source of renewable energy. The easiest form to access is the direct use of thermal energy stored in the ground. We have been working closely with Princeton facilities as part of the new campus plan for Princeton that will shift from natural gas based steam heating to a large geoexchange system. There are two opportunities here: 1) the research and development of a novel coaxial heat exchanger system that will maximize the temperature that can be produced from geothermal heat exchangers, and 2) the analysis of its ability to store heat in the summer and winter to minimize peak heating or cooling loads, thereby addressing electrical load variability in the grid. You will also get to work experimentally with Raman spectroscopy distributed temperature sensing system in test boreholes on campus.
CO2 and humidity control + atmospheric water harvesting (building chemistry)
The atmosphere contains significant amounts of water, and the vast majority of air conditioning energy is used to condense water from the air. Meanwhile even in dry air there is potential to harvest water from the atmosphere in water scarce regions. In addition CO2 levels indoors are high due to occupant exhalation, and directly managing CO2 chemically could simultaneously make indoor environments more healthy and productive while also generating a new pathway to negative emissions and carbon sequestration. The goal of this project is to first explore the physical and chemical characteristics of a broad range of organic and inorganic materials that have strong chemical affinity with water and CO2. Second, the student is expected to implement some of these materials for application in the built environment for moisture and CO2 control, including the development of bench scale prototypes using 3D printing.
Data for buildings and campus (computer science)
We operate a wide range of IoT sensors to evaluate the operation of building systems we are testing. These are largely Arduino, Pi, and Particle.io systems that run on a REST API system. There is also a new Sigfox network available on campus for distributed sensing that we have yet to develop hardware/software interfaces for yet. We also are working with facilities who recently installed some new building automation systems that allow REST API interfacing. We are looking for CS interns interested in learning about these new IoT data interfaces, and how to map and visualize them. We are working with a lightweight geometric modelling kernel for performing spatial analysis using OpenCascade Technology, but would like to develop a better kernel in Python that is more of a fusion of both CAD and GIS software. Interns should be familiar with coding, and will be taught fundamentals of geometric modeling. You will contribute to sensor development, cloud database setup, and web and mobile interface development.
Developing top-emitting halide perovskite light emitting diodes
Work will be focused on developing a halide perovskite light emitting diode that emits light through the top of the structure, rather than through the substrate, for a range of potential applications. Students will practice a mix of wet-bench and evaporator techniques to fabricate devices, and learn how to characterize these devices as well. Measurements of the devices will be compared to simulations in order to calculate internal properties.
The Princeton WET Lab (Water & Energy Technologies) is seeking an undergraduate intern to work with graduate students on water sampling and analyses for developing new technologies to recover energy from wastewater and understand greenhouse gas footprints of wastewater treatment. The tasks may include collect water samples, perform regular chemical and biological analyses, calculate greenhouse gas emissions, and draft report and participate in group discussions and potentially manuscript preparation.
Investigation of complex reaction-diffusion pathways on mesoporous zeolites
Zeolite and zeotype materials are the prototypical microporous crystalline materials and are attractive for acid-catalyzed conversions of hydrocarbons and oxygenates, sourced from traditional fossil-based or renewable feedstocks, to fuels and chemicals. The voids and channels surrounding active sites are of molecular dimension; they can provide stabilization to guest species, but can also restrict diffusion of molecules to and from the active sites, which may impact product selectivities and turnover rates. Adding mesopores into the zeolite crystal through synthetic protocols can alleviate diffusion constraints in these materials, however, their direct effect on reaction mechanisms is not well understood. Information learned from this research area can improve catalyst efficiency for the important chain growth reactions studied initially and be extended to reactions of various feedstocks, by mitigating unwanted side reactions and alleviating potential diffusion limitations.
Metal-organic frameworks for removal of aqueous contaminants
Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a class of porous materials that is formed by nodes of metal ions or metal oxide clusters linked by organic ligands. The diversity and microporous nature of MOFs can result in high selectivity and capacity for environmental contaminants found in ground or waste water, including organic (e.g. pharmaceuticals, feed additives, agricultural products, organic dyes) and inorganic (e.g. such as metal cations, inorganic acids, oxyanions/cations) species. This project will combine material design, synthesis, and kinetic experiments to provide a detailed mechanistic investigation that is needed to compare to understand how these materials work and how to improve their recyclability for potential use in environmental remediation.
The vast majority of fuels and chemical feedstocks are sourced from natural gas, oil and coal. Photocatalysis is an exciting approach to generating fuels and feedstocks from renewable resources using solar energy. The student working on this research project will synthesize and characterize a nickel photocatalyst and will learn wet chemistry and spectroscopy techniques.
Complex Fluids Group
This project applies principles of engineering and physicochemical hydrodynamics to experiments and models aimed at advancing understanding of electrokinetic dynamics relevant to supercapacitors and energy storage devices.
Behavioral Science for Policy Lab (BSPL)
In this position, the intern will work on a major project focused on the deep and rapid decarbonization of the energy systems of India, the United States, and areas of Europe. The intern will assist in the comparative research efforts to model perceptions of and responses to energy policy and system change, and identify behavioral barriers to decarbonization across these different countries and cultures. Topic areas include coal mining and use, carbon tax adoption attitudes, willingness to install and adopt modern energy structures (e.g., smart grids, additional electricity transmission lines) and sources of energy (e.g., wind farms), focusing both on understanding existing social norms and perceptions of these environmental areas and the institutions, agents, and other forces that impact them. 10 weeks.
Mitigating acid attack in sustainable cements
New types of concrete with lower carbon dioxide emissions compared with conventional Portland cement-based concrete have emerged in recent decades. However, their use in the construction industry is limited due to a lack of long-term durability data and absence of codes and standards enabling the use of alternative concretes. This project focuses on understanding sulfuric acid attack of one alternative cement, namely alkali-activated metakaolin, and evaluating viable approaches that greatly improve its resistance to this type of acid. The experimental research will utilize laboratory-based techniques to quantify the degree of degradation caused by sulfuric acid exposure, such as strength testing, depth profiling and porosity measurements. The project may also involve materials characterization techniques such as X-ray diffraction, thermogravimetric analysis and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy to enable the fundamental chemical and physical properties controlling macroscopic performance to be elucidated.
- Applications must be submitted via SAFE.
- Funding Office: ACEE
- Activity Type: Undergraduate Internships
- Opportunity Name: Undergraduate Summer Internships in Energy and the Environment
- For on-campus internships chosen from the list of available projects, include with the application: a copy of your transcript, a detailed budget of anticipated research-related materials (contact the faculty member whose project you are applying for to discuss the budget before submitting your application), and a copy of your resume/CV.
- For self-initiated, on-campus internships, include with the application: a project description of no more than two pages, a detailed budget of anticipated research-related materials (contact the faculty member whose project you are applying for to discuss the budget before submitting your application), a copy of your transcript, and a copy of your resume/CV.
- For off-campus internships with outside organizations, include with the application: a copy of your transcript, a detailed budget for travel-related expenses, and a copy of your resume/CV. Applications for internships with outside organizations will be reviewed by the host organization in addition to Princeton faculty and program coordinators in order to determine the most suitable candidates for each position. The host organization may contact the student to arrange a telephone or in-person interview. **Please carefully review the application requirements–some of the off campus opportunities require a writing sample and cover letter.**
- Be sure to check that your application is submitted and locked before the March 6, 2020 final deadline. Incomplete and/or draft applications will not be considered.
If you have questions about the application process, please contact Moira Selinka, Andlinger Center Education Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 8-8456.